Hanko (Swedish: Hangö) is Finland's southernmost city. It has a major marina which serves as a stop for boats traveling between Helsinki and the Archipelago Sea (a popular sailing destination). Hanko is a popular summer tourist destination. Tourism ensures good services and a lot of restaurants at the marina.
As the Hanko peninsula must be passed by all coastal traffic, it was already an important stopover during the Viking Age. It was chartered as a town in 1874; a railway had been built because Hanko was to be a winter port for Finland and Saint Petersburg since the open sea off the peninsula freezes late. The following year a spa was built, and Hanko became a resort town, with many Russian guests. Finland was then part of the Russian Empire. The casino and the richly ornamented wooden houses of Hanko date from this time. The town developed industry, too.
When Finland became independent in 1917 and the Russian aristocracy suffered due to the revolution, the Russian tourists disappeared. After the Winter War, 1939–1940, the peninsula was leased to the USSR as military base, as demanded by the peace treaty. The border was heavily fortified and manned, and plans for a decisive strike were made on both sides at the start of the Continuation War, but actual battles were minor and the Soviets retreated in 1941. Scattered fortifications remain.
The town remains a major port for international trade, retains its industrial base, and has revived its role as a summer resort.
The tip of the peninsula serves as a stopover point for migratory birds crossing the Gulf of Finland and, hence, hosts much birdwatching.
Arrival is possible via Highway 25. The town is a 1,5-hour trip from Helsinki, making it suitable for a day trip.
- Main article: Boating on the Baltic Sea#Hanko-Helsinki
The coastal fairways pass the Hanko Peninsula's tip where Hanko is situated. Seafaring, fishing and hospitality to seafarers are Hanko's heritage.
Hanko is easily reached from the sea, but there are crossing fairways and freight traffic in the archipelago and near the peninsula's tip. Parts of the archipelago are difficult to navigate when disoriented.
The Eastern Harbour (Itäsatama, Östra hamnen) is the biggest and busiest guest marina in Finland. There is another guest marina on the north side of the peninsula.
By train or by bus
The easiest way around Hanko is on foot. Most sights and services are close to the city centre and the marina. Except during the Hangon Regatta, taxis and parking spaces are readily available.
- The House of the four winds, Neljäntuulenkuja, Pieni Mäntysaari, ☎ . The House of the four winds was hosted by C. G. E. Mannerhein in 1927-1933
- Hanko Casino, Appelgrenintie 10, ☎ . Not a real casino these days, but a lavish wooden structure with nice view of the sea. The original Hanko Sushi restaurant operates here in summer.
- Giant's kettles. These natural rock formations are east of the Casino, on the rocks by the shore.
- Hanko Regatta (By the marina and all over town). The Hangon Regatta yacht race, held annually in early July, is the highlight of the summer in Hanko. Competitors come from all the countries of the Baltic coast and, due to the numerous spectators, Hanko takes on a festive, even rowdy, carnival atmosphere.
- Swimming. Hanko has sandy beaches to the west of the city and pebbly beaches between the marina and the Casino.
- 1 Bengtskär lighthouse, ☎ . Skerry in the outer archipelago, by the mouth of Gulf of Finland, with the tallest lighthouse in the Nordic countries. Tours from Hangö, with optional dinner, sauna, accommodation etc.
- Pizzeria Uno.
- Classic Pizza.
- Origo. Restaurant with a seafood buffet
- Hanko Sushi, Appelgrenintie 10 (It's at the Hangon Casino), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Open only in the summer. This is the first Hanko Sushi restaurant. The chain has spread to other cities.
- Roxx, the marina bar, Itäsatama, ☎ . Roxx, the marina bar, is also open outside of the sailing season and offers drinks and snacks. Marina sauna is rentable from Roxx outside of the sailing season.
There is a bike route, Kustrutten ("the coastal route"), to Kasnäs at the far end of Kimitoön in the Archipelago Sea. The route includes pathways in the forest, but does not necessitate a terrain bike.
Kasnäs can also be reached by boat: there is a daytime cruise thrice weekly (Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday) via Kasnäs to Örö in the Archipelago National Park. Twice weekly (Wednesday and Saturday) there is an evening cruise ending in Örö.
It is possible to befriend a yacht crew and join them.